Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Temptress – review

Director: Jeff Kirkendall

Release date: 2002*

Contains spoilers

*IMDb gives the release date as 2003, the DVD box states 2002.

It is sometimes difficult, when watching a low budget independent movie. Clearly you are not going to get the professional effects of a higher budget piece and the acting might be of a lower standard but there are often things that make the film stand out as worthwhile – even if it is only heart.

There were some serious issues with the Temptress – in narrative and photography primarily. However you can see that writer, director and actor Kirkendall really believed in what he was doing. The DVD I used for review is the special edition, this included the short film 3 to Murder, a prelude to this film. I watched Tempress first and wrote the review before watching the prequel (which will be subject to a further article).

felt overexposed
The film starts with a garage and Eric (Matt Kennedy, Bloodlust (2004)) is getting ready to go camping (though the full amount of gear he and his girlfriend, Tina (Jennifer Lescovich), take seems to amount to a cool box, wine and glasses, two lanterns and two sleeping bags). The car journey takes us through the credits – the music seems odd and ill placed, though a change of theme later in the credits suits the film better. The photography sometimes becomes way too exposed, perhaps indicating that Kirkendall was not au fait with the digital camera that he was shooting with for the first time (according to sleeve notes included with the DVD).

Amy Naple as Angelique
The couple get to their spot and Tina informs him that it is meant to be haunted. The story goes that, some time before, a man was tempted through the woods by a beautiful woman but then woke up back at the camp – as ghost stories go it is pretty darn lame. Night falls; we can tell as the lanterns are on because the day for night shot doesn’t even bother with a filter to try and disguise the technique… it is broad daylight but let’s all simply pretend it’s not. A woman, Angelique (Amy Naple), steals a lantern after waking Eric and draws him through the woods. She wears a sharp finger sheath ring.

Eric with lantern
They get to a building and she makes him sleep, and then awakens him straddling him. Why she had the finger sheath is unknown as she sprouts long black nails and fangs. He struggles and (at times) she appears to be Tina. Then she calls herself Tina and vanishes. It is a diversion. Tina is being fed upon and turned by Angelique and another vampire, Rose (Mary Kay Hilko). By the time Eric gets back to the camp site Tina is gone. This is followed by a scene, presumably some time later, with Karen (Jennifer Birn) being kicked out of a car (for not putting out). The previous day for night shot technique is abandoned for actual night shots (the lighting is heavy handed but the value of shooting night shots at night has to be stated). Karen is mugged, and the mugger is then killed by the vampiric Tina who has happened along (but he accidentally shoots Karen during the struggle) and so the dying Karen is saved by Tina.

Cut to the modern day and Karen, Tina and Rachael (Eileen McCashion) have taken up residence in a house. As we start Karen is talking to Ronnie (Tim Hatch) whilst Tina is getting it on with David (James Carolus, also Bloodlust). David is intent on robbing them but Karen has left a male victim to turn by accident and it all goes wrong. We then get a convoluted story of Angelique trying to get Rachael back (as a lover presumably), other female vampires vying for power off Angelique (or trying to get back into her grace and favour) and the main girls (bar Rachael who is mostly not in the film) trying to lead a life away from the head vampire.

Ronnie with stake
It’s actually an ambitiously convoluted plot but, with a 67 minute running time (some of that mis-paced with certain scenes lingering too damn long – such as Tina dancing with David) and poor narrative structure, the story loses itself and ambition falls over I’m afraid. As for lore a stake through the heart (or a vampire draining another vampire) kills – though why David stakes one vampire (Heather Blossom Brown, also Bloodlust) in the stomach, causes her to collapse, drops the stake, leaves her to get up as he hides, eventually follows her for some distance... and then he stakes her with a branch (rather than staking her when she was down) was beyond me. The vampires lack reflections, the awful day for night shots confuse us when it comes to the impact of the sun on the vampires and Angelique is a pureblood, born a vampire.

clowning around?
Effects were sparse but the staking was effective. I do have to say that, when Tina ate the mugger near the start of the proceedings, the blood round her mouth made her look like she was wearing clown makeup – a shame, but mostly the blood effects were quite good. All in all this was poor but I appreciate that Kirkendall really was doing something he believed in and that is worth mentioning as there is an honesty present, even if the quality falters badly. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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